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The role of civil servants in the formulation of policy: an analysis of the policy process on Commonwealth immigration from 1948 to 1964

By Kunihiro Wakamatsu


This thesis examines discussions within the British government held about immigration from the Commonwealth in the period between 1948 and 1964 and clarifies the role the government actors played. The introduction of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act of 1962 is an important event in British postwar history so that the political developments leading to the Act have been well researched. However, previous works on this topic have emphasised the role played by Parliament, political parties and politicians in the policy process, while they have neglected the role of non-political actors. Recognising this bias in research, this thesis clarifies the important and indispensable role played by civil servants in the policy process on Commonwealth immigration during this period.\ud \ud Through intensive archival research, in particular on British government documents deposited in the Public Record Office at Kew, this thesis chronologically analyses the policy process on Commonwealth immigration and the role major actors played there. Departmental files which have not been intensively studied so far are surveyed in depth to disclose the discussions among civil servants and their impact on policy development.\ud \ud In the policy process from 1948 to 1964 a small circle of policy experts was formed within the government, consisting of civil servants, in particular from the Home Office, the Colonial Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Ministry of Labour. This policy community worked to exclude political pressure exercised from outside of the government on the one hand and to delineate the government view of, and policy options for, Commonwealth immigration on the other hand. As a result, the social consequences of immigration were much emphasised and restrictive policy measures were consistently sought.\ud \ud This thesis shows that civil servants, whose positions within the government were assured by the existence of such a closed policy community, played a substantial part in the policy process on Commonwealth immigration

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